ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Fred Jackson #22 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a big gain leading to a first down late in the fourth quarter during NFL game action against the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson is awesome. If you've paid even a cursory amount of attention to the team this year, you don't need to be told that Fred Jackson is awesome, but it's so devastatingly true that I thought it'd be fun to spend some time diving into just how awesome Fred Jackson is. It's the bye week, after all. We're positively made of time.
Through six games this season, Jackson is the NFL's second-leading rusher - trailing only Oakland's Darren McFadden - with 601 yards on just 106 rushes. His 5.7 yards-per-carry average is by far a career high, and a figure surpassed only by Michael Vick, Darren Sproles and Stevan Ridley amongst players with 20 or more carries; combined, those three players have 100 rushes, while Jackson alone has 106.
Jackson has set a career high with six rushing touchdowns, and has also emerged as the Bills' third-leading receiver, having caught 21 passes over the Bills' last four games. Overall, Jackson has touched the ball 130 times this season - that's just shy of 22 touches per game, for those keeping track - for 880 total yards and the six scores. At this rate, Jackson will finish the season with 2,347 all-purpose yards.
Digging even deeper, the numbers are even more astonishing. Jackson has 14 rushes of 10 or more yards this season - and on those 14 runs, he's picked up 354 yards, or a whopping 25.3 yards per rush. Eight of the 14 rushes have gone for 20 or more yards. His two longest runs, 43 and 80 yards, went for touchdowns.
Jackson has 34 runs that netted between four and nine yards, and 48 that went for between no gain and a gain of three yards. Four yards is considered the standard "good run" speaking statistically, and Jackson has as many runs (48) that went for more than four yards as he does that went between zero and three. He has been stopped for a loss just 10 times (for a loss of 17 yards), making his ratio of runs that net three or fewer yards to runs that net four or more yards a 58-48 split. That is outstanding.
In the passing game, 9-of-24 Jackson receptions have gained 10 or more yards, while just one resulted in a loss of yardage. He has four receptions of 20 or more yards - bringing his total number of plays that gained 20 or more yards to 12 through six games, or two per game - and another reception went for 19 yards.
Jackson is almost everything to this offense. He is its most consistent performer, as the 58-48 split indicates; he is also its biggest playmaker, as his dozen 20-plus-yard plays indicates. When you hear people say that Jackson does everything well, they mean it literally. He is an elite runner, an outstanding pass receiver, and a highly willing and capable pass blocker. He's lined up as a lead blocker for the Bills, returned kicks and punts (though not this season), and done everything else asked of him.
Don't be afraid to over-praise Jackson, Bills fans. I'm not sure it can be done.